Time to get a better look at one of the anime of 2011 that ended up being unexpectedly good. Now I am aware of the cover of this show having over a dozen girls on it and the idea connected with this is a giant harem. Luckily, I never managed to connect the two and took a look at the show anyways. What I primarily expected/hoped for was a GOOD music moe anime. After all, one of the most popular anime which incorporate these two parts is K-ON!, a show that pretty much revolves around a group of high school girls screwing around in a club room ._______. which just wasn't my cup of tea (get it? cuz all they did was drink tea? q-q). With this, let's dive into the world of idols with The iDOLM@STER.
In my opinion, there are three things that help generalize a show on if it is good or not. First the audience must feel welcome in the setting: this pretty much is how interesting our surroundings are, the animation/sound, and/or the characters in it. Second we need to get emotionally/mentally invested; we need to be stimulated in some way so that we do not get bored. This could mean making us laugh from a gag, get intellectually invested from a deeper meaning, cry from an emotional scene, or just give you an adrenalin rush from watching an amazing fight scene. The third is if the show can follow through with the rules that they create for themselves in the plot; in other words, if you are a show about music, DO NOT stray from music so far that we are watching something completely irrelevant. All of these must be kept in mind when reading what I am about to present and we will see by the end how good the show actually is.
So The iDOLM@STER revolves around 12 musical idols and their climb to fame. We are taken through their struggles with the business and all of the personal problems that they each have to overcome, whether it has to do with issues they have involving work or problems at home.
Animation: The animation behind iDOLM@STER is very well done. Everything looks fluid and in place, not to mention that the concert scenes are incredibly well designed and show every little detail. For 2011, this is amazingly well done animation and the only complaint that I have about it is that the incredibly detailed animation of the characters on stage did not carry on off stage. This lack of detail could be due to either not having the budget to support it or to make the concert scenes more effective. Now there is something that might turn off some, which is the moe. iDOLM@STER is a show which uses the moe style, but this isn't a bad thing if it is done well and doesn't distract the viewer and personally, I had no qualms with the style even though some might. I bestow a 9.5 on iDOLM@STER for animation and the only way I could see it being better is if it was consistently detailed.
Sound: So did you know that this show is about music? Well as you can expect, the music is done quite well considering that's the shows genre. It was very nice to hear a different ending theme every episode done by the character that the episode revolves around. Also, the background soundtrack was well done and very fitting. Both the OPs are good (the first is better in my opinion) and are performed in a concert at some time in the show. However, I can only consider putting one or two songs from the show on my iPod. As far as the dub goes, I feel that if the dub was not outstanding or horrible, then there isn't much point in talking about it. All the VAs performed well, but other than Asami Imai (who played Chihaya and did a great job), I didn't feel like looking into any of the other cast. They were pretty average, they fit the characters but weren't outstanding to me. I give the show an 8.5 in sound, I only wish that they would have had more memorable pieces for a music anime.
Characters: iDOLM@STER handles its episodes by having a different character for the main focus for almost every episode, which leads to having a massive main cast. By having such a large cast, everyone will have several favorites that they hope to see as the central point in an episode. Having a show that provides everyone is great and all but what about all the characters that you don't like? Well your gonna be outa luck because most characters only get one episode so if you only like a couple characters and hate the rest then you better hope that one of the characters that you like is one of the big three that get more than one episode. I give the characters an 8 since I luckily liked most of the cast.
Plot: Well damn, this is the one part that people really do not want a show to be poor in and there you go... iDOLM@STER goes and gives you only a slightly above average story. As I said earlier, the show deals with different characters each episode and due to this, sometimes goes off track and doesn't focus on the musical aspect of the show in any way. I actually think that they could have cut almost ten of the episodes out and it wouldn't have made the enjoyment or plot any worse but probably better. Yes everyone wants their favorite idol to get an episode but why couldn't those episodes have stuck to the genre of music? Now I'm not saying that every episode needs a concert but they could have shown more on the struggles with work. I will give plot a 6 because despite irrelevant episodes deriving from the focal point of being an idol, some of the character arcs were very well done, sadly they do not make up for the rest of the show to upgrade its score anymore.
Enjoyment: The show was pretty enjoyable. The final episodes of the first and second half of the show are great and the other episodes on the individual characters were somewhat entertaining as well. iDOLM@STER was a 7.5 in my eyes as far as entertainment goes.
Okay, so now to get back to the three points that decide if a show is good or not. Firstly, the show brings you into the world of these idols incredibly well with the first episode. The styling of how it was done plus the animation and music drew me in instantly. As for how well it played with my emotions; it played with them to the extent that the show needed to. The final episodes of each half had me in anticipation of what would happen next and left me wanting more. As far as how well it stuck with the rules it set... ugh, not so well. It stuck with the rule of giving each character an episode but that isn't what the first episode presented, which was the idea of the business behind being an idol and what it meant to them. So how good is iDOLM@STER? Well the show is pretty good, not fully meeting each of the three points shows that it could have been better.
Now before I give you my final verdict, I'd like to give you a viewing recommendation. I suggest that you only watch episodes 1, 3-6, 10-14, and 19-25. What this will do is skip unimportant episodes to the plot and keep some of the best developmental points. After watching these episodes, then you should watch the remaining like they are an extension of the show. That way you will be able to watch for the story and true main characters first and if you liked it and want to see the remaining characters you can watch them as if they were an extra. Overall the show receives a 7.9.